Common Pasture Mowing – An Endangered Species Issue

Cooper North Pasture The following notice has been sent out concerning our mowing issue here on the south side of the Merrimack River:

“…Jere Myette has indicated that he is planning to mow the front field of the Cooper North Pasture property this weekend (on or after the July 15th threshold), assuming that we do not receive more rain this week.  He is planning to get some lime on the field afterwards, as in years past, and anticipates haying a second crop later in the summer.”

– The Planning Office

Personally I would feel more comfortable if the mowing occurred on August 1st.       I don’t care if the farmer is trying to squeeze more profit off the land – it is now public land and we as taxpayers need to balance the farmer’s needs (WHICH ARE IMPORTANT) and the needs of the Common Pasture and the Wildlife. (WHICH ARE IMPORTANT)

Farming is a difficult profession in itself and the health of the Common Pasture is largely due to farms being successful, tilling the land so scrubland and eventual trees don’t take root.      They are always tempted by the developer’s carrot of selling the land and putting up unnecessary roadblocks encourages them to reach for that vegetable regardless of what string is attached.

And yet, there are endangered birdlife that use the rich pasture to raise their young such as Bobolink.

If the farmer doesn’t mow the fields, the pasture reverts to forest and an entirely different wildlife habitat will move in.    If the farmer doesn’t mow the fields in a timely fashion, the field can ripen and then become dry– opening it up to wildfires which are not beneficial to anyone costing the City money putting it out and endangering animal and human populations.

And so a compromise has been made.     Audubon has determined that July 15th is a good date and so the very back and edges of the pasture have been left alone so that some birds, butterflies and insects can fully mature.

“Leaving the back part of the North Pasture as a “wildlife meadow”, mowed only once a year, is a great idea, especially if the front part remains managed as a “hayfield”. …farmers often like to get three mowings a year from a good “hayfield,” but getting that down to one late-season mowing is a compromise which I think both farmers and butterflies could live with.” Sharon Stichter, Editor, Massachusetts Butterflies, A publication of the NABA-Massachusetts Butterfly Club


So basically, Newburyport has taken the best approach for a compromise so that all parties, animal and human, can benefit.


-P. Preservationist




About P. Preservationist

Dedicated to the Enrichment & Preservation of Newburyport
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